Event Title

Can a Constellation of CubeSats Create a Capability? Satisfying Australia’s Future Need for Multi-Spectral Imagery

Session

Pre-Conference: CubeSat Developers' Workshop

SSC13-WK-29.pdf (3015 kB)
Presentation Slides

Abstract

The emergence of the cubesat architecture and continued advancements in technology has enabled unprecedented capabilities using nanosatellites. There is a growing trend from simple technology demonstrators and educational platforms toward missions of greater significance and utility. In 2011 Geosciences Australia released a document titled “Continuity of Earth Observation Data for Australia - Operational Requirements to 2015 for Lands, Coasts and Oceans.” This paper was produced in consultation with domestic stakeholders to identify future satellite imagery requirements of the Australian economic region in the 2015 timeframe. A need was identified for medium resolution multi-spectral coverage of the entire Australian landmass every day. This medium spatial resolution and high temporal resolution challenge lends itself to a constellation of small satellites. This paper estimates the gap in required imagery that will remain in 2015 when new public good satellites are operational. It then describes a modification of the 6U 8kg cubesat system proposed by Tsitas and Kingston [2] that could supplement the public good systems. Using commercial software Collection Planning & Analysis Workstation (CPAW), a model of the proposed space and ground segment is presented. This analysis methodology allows for a rigorous appraisal of the satellite consumables such as power and data storage. The consumables are tracked and collection plans are optimised using sophisticated algorithms. These high fidelity models enable an accurate estimate of what imagery can be collected beyond simple access simulations. Success of this concept would rely heavily on international collaboration. One of the major factors identified is ground station location and availability as a key determinant of overall system performance. A sophisticated space segment must be appropriately supported by a distributed ground segment to ensure all imagery collected is downlinked and processed. A key conclusion of this analysis is that a relatively small investment in cubesats might meet a significant portion of Australia’s future space imagery requirements. In doing so the investment would also provide assured access to imagery from space, transform Australia into an “active”€™ rather than a “passive” user of Earth observations from space and increase Australia’s international leverage. Finally a discussion of some of the challenges in moving forward with the operational concept will be presented.

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Aug 10th, 10:55 AM

Can a Constellation of CubeSats Create a Capability? Satisfying Australia’s Future Need for Multi-Spectral Imagery

The emergence of the cubesat architecture and continued advancements in technology has enabled unprecedented capabilities using nanosatellites. There is a growing trend from simple technology demonstrators and educational platforms toward missions of greater significance and utility. In 2011 Geosciences Australia released a document titled “Continuity of Earth Observation Data for Australia - Operational Requirements to 2015 for Lands, Coasts and Oceans.” This paper was produced in consultation with domestic stakeholders to identify future satellite imagery requirements of the Australian economic region in the 2015 timeframe. A need was identified for medium resolution multi-spectral coverage of the entire Australian landmass every day. This medium spatial resolution and high temporal resolution challenge lends itself to a constellation of small satellites. This paper estimates the gap in required imagery that will remain in 2015 when new public good satellites are operational. It then describes a modification of the 6U 8kg cubesat system proposed by Tsitas and Kingston [2] that could supplement the public good systems. Using commercial software Collection Planning & Analysis Workstation (CPAW), a model of the proposed space and ground segment is presented. This analysis methodology allows for a rigorous appraisal of the satellite consumables such as power and data storage. The consumables are tracked and collection plans are optimised using sophisticated algorithms. These high fidelity models enable an accurate estimate of what imagery can be collected beyond simple access simulations. Success of this concept would rely heavily on international collaboration. One of the major factors identified is ground station location and availability as a key determinant of overall system performance. A sophisticated space segment must be appropriately supported by a distributed ground segment to ensure all imagery collected is downlinked and processed. A key conclusion of this analysis is that a relatively small investment in cubesats might meet a significant portion of Australia’s future space imagery requirements. In doing so the investment would also provide assured access to imagery from space, transform Australia into an “active”€™ rather than a “passive” user of Earth observations from space and increase Australia’s international leverage. Finally a discussion of some of the challenges in moving forward with the operational concept will be presented.